By Laurie Junkins
The boy picks through windblown woods,
footsteps quiet on moss and damp needles, eyes
scanning the forest floor for green maple or oak.
His grandfather’s Laguiole jackknife
lies warm in his hand, wanting
the pull of wood beneath its blade.
Overhead, fir and cedar branches roll
in the wind and their trunks groan, but the boy
stays sheltered below among ferns and wild roses.
He can just hear, back at the house,
the squeak squeak of the weathered-rope hammock,
cries of gulls blown in from shore,
and his parents’ raised voices
behind the farmhouse walls, rumbling
and cracking like a storm.
Near a patch of Oregon grape, he finds
the perfect branch. He hefts it
in both hands, feels its knobs
and hollows. He sees the bow-drill
it will become, dreams of nights
lit by crackling campfire, in the woods
on his own.
Later, alone in his cold room,
he turns the wood over and over,
studies the ridges and planes left by his whittling.
His grandfather’s low voice
inside his head calms him
even as the wind howls outside dark windows,
carrying winter on its back. He runs
his fingers across his whittling’s
bone-smooth surface again and again,
rubbing away grief that falls like a shroud.
Copyright 2007 Laurie Junkins